For the past couple of years, YALSA has had a task force working with ALSC and REFORMA to re-envision the Pura Belpré Award.
“The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking (REFORMA), an ALA affiliate.
The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. As a children’s librarian, storyteller, and author, she enriched the lives of Puerto Rican children in the U.S.A. through her pioneering work of preserving and disseminating Puerto Rican folklore.
The award is now given annually. It was given as a biennial award from 1996 through 2008.” Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/belpremedal/belpreabout)
The work of the Taskforce was to look at the options of creating a Teen element to the award. After a lot of hard work, the Taskforce composed of YALSA members, REFORMA members, and ALSC members brought forth their recommendations on how to move forward. Beginning in 2020 there will now be a Pura Belpré Award for teen books written by and for Latinx.
All three board, YALSA, REFORMA, and ALSC had to agree to the changes in the manual and language of the agreement. As a participant in these meetings, it was an eye-opening experience. REFORMA is an affiliate of the ALA, so in a sense, it’s an independent organization, they had created an MOU (Memo of Understanding) with ALSC to manage and administer the award each year. There is a balancing act with the committee selections and managing of the funds generated from the seal sales. And now that YALSA has joined this delicate dance, many details had to be determined. The final composition of the award committee will have two YALSA Members, two ALSC members, and three REFORMA members. So, keep your eye on the volunteer form if you’re interested in serving on the committee.
After two years of hard work, the Taskforce is also exhausted and there are a lot of little details that still need to be addressed. So, the Board has created a new task force to pick up the work that has been done and continue to shape our relationship with ALSC and REFORMA to create a strong partnership for the Pura Belpré Award for Teens.
On a personal note, this has been very exciting, when I first started working with teens I was disappointed that there wasn’t an award or a list that focused on literature for Latinx teens. I’ve worked with many Latinx teens and finding titles that they could personally relate to was difficult. I hope that over times more Latinx authors will begin to write novels for Latinx teens.
YALSA Secretary, 2017-2019